A civil rights organization plans to file a federal complaint on Monday with the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice over claims that Yale and other Ivy League universities unlawfully discriminated against Asian Americans in admissions.
The Asian American Coalition for Education, which is composed of more than 100 local, state and national organizations, will also call for federal investigations into admissions practices at Brown University and Dartmouth College, which, along with Yale, have the lowest acceptance rates for Asian Americans and have no ongoing lawsuits against them, according to the group’s website.
A summary of the complaint was released on AACE’s website on March 14 and has since been signed by 115 Asian-American organizations. In the document, AACE accuses the University of maintaining racial quotas on Asian Americans, citing a decline in Asian-American enrollment at Yale despite the number of college-aged Asian-Americans more than doubling since 2011.
In a statement to the News Saturday, University Spokesman Tom Conroy reaffirmed the necessity of Yale’s admissions policies in creating diverse classes of students.
“All relevant factors are considered in the context of the application as a whole, and the decision on any applicant does not turn on any one factor alone,” Conroy said. “In conducting a holistic review, applicants are not disadvantaged in the admissions process on the basis of race or national origin.”
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan declined to comment, deferring to Conroy.
Affirmative action policies at selective U.S. universities have received criticism in the past, with opponents claiming that race-based admissions violates applicants’ civil rights. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule later this spring on Fisher v. University of Texas, a high-profile case challenging the use of affirmative action in higher education.
Janelle Wong GRD ’01, director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Maryland, said she rejects the idea that Yale’s admissions policies are discriminatory, adding that Asian Americans have benefitted from affirmative action in other areas like government contracts and federal employment.
“These complaints can have a detrimental effect on a university’s commitment to racial and ethnic inclusion, particularly for those groups that have the least access,” Wong said. “It can be intimidating to be accused of having a biased admissions system.”
AACE filed a similar complaint last May against Harvard, but it was dismissed two months later because a lawsuit by a different organization makes similar allegations. The group’s most recent complaint is the first of its kind against Yale.